About Us

The Appalachian State University Geological and Environmental Sciences (AGES) Department provides students with a solid foundation on which to build a successful career in the geosciences and environmental sciences. 

We are the largest undergraduate geosciences department in the UNC system, and we have been successful in establishing a program that is arguably among the best Bachelor degree programs in earth and environmental sciences available in the southeastern United States.

At AGES, we offer the following degree programs and concentrations:

See our What should I major in? page to determine if our programs are right for you!

See our Get Involved! page for opportunities for AGES students in research, outreach, and teaching.

What should I major in?

Many students come into our program a bit confused as to what the geosciences and environmental sciences actually are.

  • "What's the difference between environmental studies and environmental science?"
  • "Isn't geology just about rocks?" (no!)
  • "What is better for the job I want? A geology degree or an environmental science degree?"

Our What should I major in? page will help guide you to the degree track that is right for you - either in this department or in a different department.

If you're not yet sure you want to major in Geology or Environmental Science, take one (or more) of our many General Education classes - learn about water resources, environmental cleanup, dinosaurs, oceanography, natural disasters, energy resources, fossils, and of course... rocks.  According to Slate, "Introductory Geology classes are the best science electives" and we certainly agree!

Ask A Geologist

You've got questions? We've got answers!  Ask A Geologist!

Did you find something that puzzled you in your backyard or on top of a mountain? Have questions about local environmental problems? Want to know about what's going on in Boone Creek, the Watauga River, and the New River? Concerned about fracking in your region? Do you have a mineral that you can't identify? Think you found a meteorite? We will do our best to answer any geological/environmental question. We also have pages that answer some of our most frequently asked questions.

What's so special about our department?

We study more than just rocks.

Geology is about more than just rocks.

Environmental Science is about more than just ecology, policy, or regulations.

What is Geology?

Our faculty have expertise in all fields of the Earth and Environmental sciences.

Click on our each of our research programs below to see what we do!


How does the earth move?


Tectonics Research Group:


What processes affect water supply and quality?

researchers in river

Hydrology and Environmental Geology Research Group:


What do fossils tell us?

bone microscopy image

Paleontology Research Group:


What do landforms tell us? How do humans influence landscapes?

Surface processes

Surface Processes Research Group


What do the minerals in rocks tell us? What is the role they play in the environment?

mineral microscopy image

Mineralogy, Petrology, and Geochemistry Research Group:


How is Earth's climate recorded in minerals, rocks, sediment, water, and ice? How has climate changed through time?

Records of Climate Change

Records of Climate Change Research Group:


Latest News

Dr Sarah Evans receives prestigious NSF CAREER award

Congratulations to Dr Sarah Evans, who recently won the prestigious NSF CAREER award, making her the third professor in App State's history to do...

Marta Toran's SAFE grant spotlighted by the College of Arts and Sciences

Marta Toran's SAFE grant, “An Undergraduate Outreach Experience: Bilingual Environmental Science Enrichment Program for Elementary Students,” is s...

Dr. Sarah Carmichael named to The Explorers Club 50 for pushing the boundaries of exploration

She will share her geomicrobiology, mass extinction research Dec. 14 as part of The Explorers 50 Speaker Series....

Dr Ellen Cowan investigates history of environmental contamination by coal ash

Dr Ellen Cowan's work documenting the history of environmental contamination by coal ash (a byproduct of burning coal for energy production) in five N...

Dr. Johnny Waters named Fellow of the Paleontological Society

Emeritus Professor Dr. Johnny Waters has been named a Fellow of the Palaeontological Society for his research on echinoderms and contributions to Asia...